The most-famous (if not quite the tallest) structure at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Temple of the Inscriptions:
The largest (by volume) structure at Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico:
From this spot, the pyramid actually looks much smaller than it really is. The part you see from the base here is actually a later addition (more accurately, collection of three additions) to the original pyramid, which then rises even further behind this bit in the front. In all, Structure II has a base covering 120 x 120 meters (394 x 394 feet), and stands 45 meters (148 feet) tall.
At the (fairly small) Maya ruins of Dzibanché in Quintana Roo, Mexico:
This is a nicely restored little pyramid, and since the site of Dzibanché isn’t all that frequently visited, you can have it to yourself for a while. It’s a quick day-trip from either Costa Maya or Chetumal, too — an easy and affordable excursion should you find yourself in the area.
This is the north face of El Castillo (a.k.a., the Temple of Kukulkan) at the ruins of Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, Mexico:
It’s pretty much the image you see of this structure on postcards, calendars, T-shirts, and the like — and it’s harder to capture than you might think. Since it’s a “marquis” structure at one of the most visited of Maya ruins, everybody wants to get their picture taken in front of it. So if you want a “clean” photograph (i.e., no tourists) of the structure, you’ll have to do what I did — take a dozen or so photos of the thing, then use Photoshop Elements to combine them.
Derived from the Mayan for “large hill,” Nohoch Mul is by far the largest (and to judge from pictures online, the most-photographed) structure at the Maya ruins of Cobá:
As you can see, parts of it (on the sides of the stairway) are in rough shape — but it’s got the advantage of being one of the largest Maya pyramids that visitors are still allowed to climb. And for those with issues with heights, a rope is provided to help you get up and down.
The view from the top is pretty impressive, too!
Definitely one of the steeper pyramids we saw on our 2011 trip, in the Terminal Classic Puuc site of Uxmal:
As you might be able to tell, kids had no problems with these steps — the bigger ones were racing each other to the top! Regular adults have to do the usual angle-walk up the steps.
You might also notice that this is the only one of the pyramid’s four faces that has been restored. Aside from saving money up front (restoration isn’t cheap), this saves money over the long run too — since once you restore something, you have to maintain it. Restoration also (in a way) destroys — since you can never be 100% sure you’re restoring something exactly the way it once was. So 3/4 of this structure is being saved for future generations of researchers to study and (maybe) restore at a later date.
You may not realize it, but this is a particularly odd structure in the Mayan world:
It’s a pyramid called Xaibe at the ancient ruins of Cobá in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. The name comes from a Maya term for a crossroads, since it’s at the junction of four Maya roads — and it’s nearly unique in being a Maya pyramid with an elliptical (vs. rectangular) footprint. It *may* have been used as a lookout tower, but I’ve never seen anything resembling an authoritative statement on that.